Coventry 0-4 Nottingham (21.12.08)
Coventry Blaze felt defeat on Sunday after a beating from the Nottingham Panthers in what was the most hyped game of the season so far.
Expectations were high for both players and fans alike, but Blaze were stumped by some excellent goal tending from Panther’s netminder, Michel Robinson.
An aggressive start saw two fights in just over a minute and a half.
Carlyle Lewis got the better of Panther, Jeff Bergin and fans were treated once again when Danny Stewart exchanged blows with Bruce Richardson just six seconds later.
It wasn’t long before there were more additions to the already crowded penalty box – Deschateles for Blaze, Tessier and Ndur for Panthers.
Weaver and Calder both came close, but failed to convert chances in the first of many fruitless powerplays for the Blaze.
A wristshot from Russ Cowley later ringed off the post marking Coventry’s best chance so far.
Tempers flared once more, with Sylvain Deschateles and Dan Tessier ending up in the sin bin after a scuffle.
Blaze continued to dominate, with two further powerplay opportunities but the first period ended goalless for both teams.
A calmer start to the second, but Blaze continued to pile on the pressure. Robinson kept the game level, pulling off a sharp glove save from a Barrie Moore shot. Adam Calder almost made it through, only for the puck to creep over the top of the net.
David Clarke responded to the pressure, getting the first goal of the match for the Panthers. He slammed the puck into the top of the net after a mistake from Corey LeClair cost Blaze possession.
Coventry kept the pace up, but with more chances untaken the passion began to fade.
Nottingham played an organised game, doubling their lead before the break. The large crowd of away fans celebrated as Dan Tessier found Johan Molin who slid the puck under JF Perras’s pads.
Blaze were still on the attack in the final period, but their efforts went unrewarded as Robinson blocked all attempts including a slapshot from new recruit Jon Coleman.
Defence suffered and as the only player in the zone, Brendan Cook did not hesitate to add another to the Panther’s lead.
With Blaze unable to recover, frustrations surfaced once more. Galbraith found himself roughing it up with Dan Carlson who took offence to his hit on Corey LeClair.
Clarke got his second of the night, taking the opportunity to stick another in the net less than 30 seconds before the buzzer. A painful end for Blaze fans as many suspected it was offside.